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 Post subject: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:09 am 
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Hi, new member/XPS 630i owner here.

Today the power company came and declared that they were resetting the power for some reason and that I should turn off any computers and disconnect them from power strips, etc. I had a senior moment and failed to disconnect my Dell, though I did turn it off. The power was reset by the power company. I attempted to restart the computer and was confronted by a failure to post, accompanied by one long continuous beep, maybe 20 seconds in length, followed by two shorter but still long beeps, maybe 10 seconds in length each.

Searching these forums, I found the following pertinent thread: viewtopic.php?t=1105

I'm going to try the CMOS reset suggestion, but in the meantime I'm wondering if anyone else has any ideas. I'm assuming the power surge from the power company resetting the power is behind whatever the issue is, and I had figured I likely had either a PSU issue or a motherboard issue (either potentially serious, though I'd rather the PSU if I had to pick).

The amber light on the mobo is illuminated when the power is connected. Likewise, the power light/button goes on when I turn it on, as well as various lights and fans inside the box. Just no post. I think the monitor is okay, as it shows it's logo et al when I turn it on and off.

Thanks for any help in advance. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:56 pm 
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My guess is that the PSU took the hit; I would try replacing that first--can't hurt in the long run, since the stock PSU is rather old now (more likely to fail and they lose efficiency over time).

Let us know how it goes!

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Dell XPS 8700 | Core i7 4770 3.4GHz | BIOS A11 | Windows 7 Pro 64-bit SP1 | 16GB G.SKILL DDR3 Sniper 1600MHz | EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC | Dell S2340M 23" IPS LED | Seasonic 650W M12II-650 | Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB | Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB | ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 | ASUS DRW-24B1ST | Logitech G100S | Dell SK-8135 keyboard | Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:07 am 
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Thanks for the reply, gdonner. The CMOS reset didn't work, and I was nonplussed on any other home solutions, so I took it in for repair to a local shop. Much to my surprise, the culprit was a stick of RAM of all things, complicated by some corrupted data on the system drive's boot partition. Once the bad RAM was removed, the system would post but not boot up fully. They say the corrupted data can't be fixed/recovered, but it's likely just OS-related anyway, so it looks like I'll just have to reinstall the OS (and maybe buy a new stick of RAM and a new hard drive). Much happier to do that than try to replace the mobo though.

Anyway, hopefully this might help someone else who looks at the archives here - power surge doesn't always kill the PSU or mobo apparently, and you may have to look further down the chain. (And a long beep start error may not be as fatal/permanent as you think.)


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:29 pm 
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Glad the shop was able to find the problem, and direct you to a solution! Like you say, good to know for future reference..!

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Dell XPS 8700 | Core i7 4770 3.4GHz | BIOS A11 | Windows 7 Pro 64-bit SP1 | 16GB G.SKILL DDR3 Sniper 1600MHz | EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC | Dell S2340M 23" IPS LED | Seasonic 650W M12II-650 | Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB | Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB | ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 | ASUS DRW-24B1ST | Logitech G100S | Dell SK-8135 keyboard | Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:56 pm 
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I've got another update, again just for the sake of helping anyone else who comes along with similar problems.

So, I left off above with buying a new hard drive and reinstalling the OS on that drive (misconception/problem #1) to get the PC up and running again, with the assumption being that the old hard drive was basically done in and not trustworthy (misconception/problem #2), if not totally shot. I had a backup of my data from an external USB hard drive that I faithfully wrote backups to every night using the Windows backup utility, so I was 'secure' on that score (misconception/problem #3.)

First, let me address the misconceptions, then I'll go on to how it was all fixed and I got to my happy ending.

Misconception/problem #1: reinstalling the OS.

I've done this on other machines before and it never seemed like a big deal. Not so on the XPS 630i. Well, installing an OS on a new drive is not a big deal, but it will be nothing like the old computer you had, being as it's not at all 'Delled." It's just a drone. But the 630i is a rather highly tweaked machine, so getting it back to that state would be horrific. (I've since seen the guides and driver links and whatnot here, and while that's great, basically, if you can avoid it, that's the way to go. Dell itself has guides on how to re-Dell your OS, but as usual they're fairly cryptic, and being as I had Windows XP and needed to keep it for various audio hardware compatibility reasons, I also had to deal with the constant red-headed stepchild attitude coming from every corner - XP links inexplicably changing to Win7 or 8 references, grim "WinXP is no longer supported" reminders, etc.) Complicating all this was the fact that the base OS reinstall wouldn't make use of the ethernet adapter without a proper driver, so I couldn't get online with that machine to do anything. Luckily I had the cheap laptop I just bought as a stopgap measure to do that. Special note: you basically need an internet-connected second computer right there if you're hoping to accomplish anything in a timely fashion.

Funny/unbelievable sidenote: Dell literally has a troubleshooter for diagnosing connectivity issues that requires connectivity to use. It's not something you can download on another machine and copy over and install, as it requires an interface with the affected machine. So in order to use the utility, you have to be able to do the thing that the utility is supposed to try to discover why you can't do. :shock:

Misconception/problem #2: the old drive was not shot. I was able to hook up the drive to another computer and look it over, and everything seemed fine structurally. All my data was still there and accessible. I couldn't find any damaged sectors or anything like that. The only problem was that it wouldn't boot. Or so I thought. After the new OS debacle, I was desperate not to go down that road so I attempted to boot the old OS from the old drive, and eventually I was able to in safe mode. It would only work without networking though, and the boot always hung at something called avgidshx.sys. I later found that this is a file having to do with AntiVirus Guard (AVG) which can, ironically, interfere/disable internet connectivity if it's corrupted. Anyway, it would eventually boot despite that hang, and in safe mode I was able to do a system restore to a date before the power surge. This allowed me to boot up in normal mode again, so all of sudden things weren't looking so dire. I was back in my old system. I was able to restore limited connectivity by reinstalling the Dell/nVidia ethernet adapter driver, but the system was still struggling, and I'd frequently get a variety of BSODs - stuff like PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA and kernal errors and IRQL_LESS messages - which mostly tended to point to memory issues in my searches. At any rate, the hard drive was not shot, and the data on it was intact, which was a good thing because ...

Misconception/problem #3: Windows backup utility. Ironically, while my data on the system drive was intact, the backup data was not. This could be because the process was interrupted when I shut off the computer that fateful morning (it was running at the time), but whatever the reason, I had about two thirds of it, in the cryptic and and I later discovered not-highly-regarded .bkf format. Basically nothing or very little besides Windows Backup can actually read a .bkf file. I won't get into it here, but do not use Windows Backup for backups. Just don't. There's much better out there.

Onto the happy ending ...

First of all I uninstalled AVG, and even used a utility called AVG Remover to get rid of all traces of AVG from the registry. This cleared up the boot issues. The system seemed happier and was good with connectivity again. I also updated all the drivers I could get my hands on through Dell for my specific equipment. That left figuring out the persistent BSODs. Focusing on memory, I used memtest86 to test all my remaining sticks individually, letting the utility do three passes on each stick. They all passed. I then put my bad stick in just to see what it would do, and the long-beep/two shorter beeps failure returned, so that was definitely due to that bad stick. I took it back out and all was well again. Then the most important thing: I read somewhere that sometimes simply moving the RAM modules around into different slots can resolve memory issues. I did that, and I haven't had a BSOD since. That was only a day or so ago, and I'm still watchful, but the system does seem happy. (You know that feeling where you know something's wrong, and the same feeling where you know everything feels right.)

Next thing was to run all the available Dell diagnostics for my system, now that I was connected again. Dell has a very handy utility for doing this, and all my stuff passed.

Last thing was that my old drive, healthy as it remained, was almost full, so I figured now was a good time to move the OS since I had the new drive sitting there doing nothing. So I wiped the reinstalled OS off it it and got clone/backup software from Acronis. They have some free varieties for owners of certain manufacturer hard drives, and WD was one, which is the brand of the drive I bought. I used this to clone the old drive onto the new drive and it worked like a charm. The software interface is very user friendly so the procedure was easy (as opposed to the frequently cryptic nature of this stuff). It even changed the drive letter of the new OS drive to C: for me.

After that it's been just a matter of housekeeping - getting the latest Windows updates, reinstalling AVG (the software itself isn't evil, just when something gets corrupted), and defragmenting my hard drive(s). I left it all on overnight and everything was stable in the morning, with no BSODs or other issues. (I'd awoken to one the morning before.)

So, the main takeaways:

1. If you suffer a power surge, don't automatically assume your PSU or mobo took the hit. It could be something else, like RAM in my case.

2. Don't try to reinstall Windows XP on anything but a budget Dell if you can help it. Recreating the actual Dell system will be a nightmare.

3. Don't use the Windows Backup utility for backups. Use something else. I recommend Acronis software. It worked great for cloning in my case, and while I haven't used it for backups yet, I assume that if it can handle cloning, it can handle backups.

4. I'd suggest doing frequent system state backups onto removeable media in addition to data backups. This will ensure that if the OS goes belly up due to hard drive failure or something like that, you'll be in a good position to restore the life you had the day before. Acronis does that as well.

Thanks to My630.com btw - it was good to find a port in the storm like this during the crisis. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 3:04 am 
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A lot of good info. Thanks.

Kevin

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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:02 pm 
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Like KevinK37 said, thanks for the info--a lot of good stuff there!

Some of my thoughts:

* Like you shared, it's always critical to have a second PC connected to the Internet nearby for downloading drivers or finding help. I'm also proactive in checking for new drivers for all my hardware just to keep it fresh (which I keep on my flash drive); if I ever need to reinstall something, chances are good I already have the latest drivers.

* I've never had any success with proprietary backup software (just don't trust it), so I just use "SyncBackFree" to keep data backed up to an external hard drive (mind you, this doesn't work for OS software--just data files). Once you set it up, it saves a huge amount of time, and only backs up what's needed. The only exception to the backup software thing has been Samsung's Data Migration Setup software that I used for moving my OS to my new, larger SSD a while ago. Very easy to use, intuitive, and worked flawlessly. Highly recommended if you ever make the move to a Samsung SSD.

* Other than data migration, if my OS drive gets even a little bit corrupt for whatever reason, I automatically do a fresh, clean install. I've spent too much time in the past mucking about with a non-stable system to not go that route.

* I choose very carefully what software I do and do not install on my system; avoid like the plague anything that's given you grief or doesn't come highly recommended in user reviews. And keep a watchful eye out for malware even in open source apps that used to be clean. Sad, but true (see "DVDStyler" as an example).

* I keep all my data on a dedicated removable flash drive (also backed up to the external hard drive daily with SyncBack). If my OS drive goes down, all my data is safe. I also keep all my games on a separate partition--has saved a lot of time and grief recently.

* Anything I can backup or do ahead of time to make life easier (such as organizing files, or creating a document with key install info, list of apps to install and in what order, etc.) I do. Saves a lot of time and headache later hunting for info.

_________________
Dell XPS 8700 | Core i7 4770 3.4GHz | BIOS A11 | Windows 7 Pro 64-bit SP1 | 16GB G.SKILL DDR3 Sniper 1600MHz | EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SC | Dell S2340M 23" IPS LED | Seasonic 650W M12II-650 | Samsung SSD 850 EVO 1TB | Toshiba DT01ACA100 1TB | ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 | ASUS DRW-24B1ST | Logitech G100S | Dell SK-8135 keyboard | Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:58 pm 
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Your post has got me thinking! Given that I religiously back up my "important stuff" like pictures, music files etc. on a second internal hard drive & also on an external hard drive (can't be too careful I think) I am now wondering if I am doing the right thing? Given that I currently solely rely on Windows to back up my files what software would you guys recommend that I use to ensure that I can restore my whole system should the unthinkable happen?

_________________
XPS 630i (silver) case
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC ACX 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
8GB G.Skill DDR3 Sniper Memory
Windows 7 Home Edition (64 bit) SP1
ACER S271HL LED HD 27inch Monitor
ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 Mobo
Intel 3rd Gen. Core i5-3570K (4 x 3.40GHz, Ivy Bridge, Socket 1155, 6Mb L3 Cache) CPU (OC'd to 4.2GHz)
Logitech G35 7.1 surround sound Headset
2 x SCSI Hardrives (1 x 256Gb Crucial M4 SSD & 1 x 600Gb WDC Blue WD64 00AAKS-75A7B)
Perixx PX-2000 Illuminated Gaming Keyboard
Gigabyte M8000X Laser Gaming Mouse
Scythe Kaze Master Pro Ace Manual Fan Controller[/size]
Modified front case fans (2 x Aerocool Shark 12cm Quad LED 15 Blade Fluid
Dynamic Bearing Fan-Blue)


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:40 pm 
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There are too many options for backup plans and software to cover them all, but here are two rules I follow:

1. On an external drive, I keep a backup copy of all my important data, music, photos, etc., with no backup software involved--just a straight copy of all the data. Do not rely on "backup software" working or not.

2. Periodically, make a full disk image. I've used the Windows app with good results (it's in the "backup area, but look for the option to "create a disk image). Also have used Macrium software (free version). An "image" puts everything back on a hard drive (or SSD) just like it was when you made it.

If you want to be truly careful, you should keep a copy off-site. The "cloud" is a good option these days, but I don't trust it with my only copy. I don't have that much data that I consider really "critical," so I can fit the high-value stuff on a 32GB USB thumb drive and drop it in my bank's safety deposit box along with passports, birth certificates, etc.

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Upgraded XPS 630 - Devils Canyon i7-4790K | 16GB | Samsung 850EVO | ASUS Z97Pro(WiFi) | Windows 10 | Seasonic 650 Gold PSU | GTX 750i

Latest Build: Skylake i7-6700K | ASUS Z170i | NZXT Kraken X41 Cooler | NZXT Manta Case | Seasonic Platinum SS-660 | Samsung 950 Pro NVME M.2| G.Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 2666 | MSI GTX 950 | Windows 10 | Dell 24" 1920x1200 x2


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:48 pm 
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Just logged back in and saw these responses. Thanks for the additional info.

@chriskaz, I'm no expert at this stuff but I agree with rchris that the best method for backing up data you're very serious about is just copying it yourself to an external drive. I don't know that there's any Windows function that will do it for you on a schedule (smarter people than me could probably write some sort of script to do it), so you'd have to do it manually every so often. The problem with Windows Backup that I ran into is that it's not really reliable and the format it uses is weird. If something happens, you want all your stuff right there just the way you left it, not encripted into some crazy format that renders it useless or that you have to work very hard at salvaging. (What's the point of creating backups you can't use, right?)

btw, the system's still good. The BSODs stayed gone and everything's stable. My only issue is getting a replacement 1GB stick of RAM so I can go back to 4GB instead of 3 ... nobody seems to sell the Corsair Dominator stuff I have anymore. Oh well, it's actually not hugely noticeable.


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 Post subject: Re: Power Surge Death?
 Post Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:24 pm 
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Barrabas: Great advice. Thanks. I have a real problem with Windows Backup. It seems to hang and I can't get it to work. I think that I am going to have to do it manually from now on! Unless anyone else here has a better solution?

PS. Glad to hear that you sorted out your problem.

_________________
XPS 630i (silver) case
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC ACX 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
8GB G.Skill DDR3 Sniper Memory
Windows 7 Home Edition (64 bit) SP1
ACER S271HL LED HD 27inch Monitor
ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 Mobo
Intel 3rd Gen. Core i5-3570K (4 x 3.40GHz, Ivy Bridge, Socket 1155, 6Mb L3 Cache) CPU (OC'd to 4.2GHz)
Logitech G35 7.1 surround sound Headset
2 x SCSI Hardrives (1 x 256Gb Crucial M4 SSD & 1 x 600Gb WDC Blue WD64 00AAKS-75A7B)
Perixx PX-2000 Illuminated Gaming Keyboard
Gigabyte M8000X Laser Gaming Mouse
Scythe Kaze Master Pro Ace Manual Fan Controller[/size]
Modified front case fans (2 x Aerocool Shark 12cm Quad LED 15 Blade Fluid
Dynamic Bearing Fan-Blue)


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